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Sample Core Competencies

This blog lists examples of core competencies as a starting point for discussion about addressing the gao between graduate skills and employment standards.

In my last post - Core Competencies - A Proposed Structure for Standards – I listed a basic set of sixteen core competencies relevant to the character animator as an example of defining an area of specialty.  I’ve no doubt there are other ways to categorize skill sets, but I offer these example as a starting point for discussion and collaboration.

Below are sets of core competencies for two of the area I mentioned:


  • use key-framing principles to animate objects or characters using a combination of straight-ahead and pose-to-pose animation. 
  • apply the laws of motion to create the illusion of weight, inertia and force to objects and characters.
  • use slow-in and slow-out to create believable acceleration and deceleration.
  • apply arcs of action to create the appearance of natural movement.
  • create anticipation and follow-through to create a complete and realistic animation movement and guide the viewer’s eye.
  • use exaggeration to enhance the behavior of objects and characters in order to add interest and caricature to their motion.
  • add overlapping actions to a character’s movement. 
  • use squash and stretch to emphasize the weight and motion of an object or character while maintaining the appearance of volume
  • use exaggeration to enhance or amplify size, shape and motion.
  • vary the timing of animation actions to adjust the illusions of weight, inertia and force, to create emotion and create realistic or caricatured actions and movements


  • differentiate and classify short and long-form films and television programs based on their genre and visual style.
  • understand and apply the principles of cinematography including image aspect ratio, image design, rule of thirds, point-of-view, perspective, camera angle and placement, camera movement, aperture, depth of field, and lens choice.
  • construct a chronological illustration (diagram) or written précis of a film documenting the major acts, scenes and shots
  • create a short story using a variety of narrative structures by applying the principles of exposition, development, complication, climax and resolution.
  • identify the key principles of narrative structure including the story arc, linear sequential plots, the back story, flashbacks, parallel stories, script formulas (such as the hero’s journey) and other forms of storytelling.
  • apply the principles of color theory, color selection and color psychology to the design of shots that set the mood of a scene and reinforce the viewer’s experience.
  • apply the principles and aesthetics of editing to create transitions between shots and create emotional impact through shot selection, visual interest, scene pacing, transitions, cutting on action, continuity editing,  the 180 degree rule, cutaways, and inserts.
  • select and specify music that enhances and reinforces the mood and actions in a scene and specify appropriate sound effects to support specific actions and events in a shot.

If this list appears useful to you as an educator as a key tool for developing curriculum and assessing competence, or if you are a recruiter who would like to comment on the relevance of these to assessing portfolios skills and talent, please write to me at    I’ll be pleased to send you a complete list of competencies for all the areas I listed in my last post. Also, I would like to receive critical or supportive response from instructors and recruiters. 

Unless there is some general level of agreement about using this type of system for program design and skills assessment, I see little future in closing the gap between graduation and employment expectations. I hear a great deal of criticism and comment from both sides of the fence these days.  I see and hear great claims of success from educational institutions, but not much recognition of the small numbers that actually graduate and are employed professionally in their field of study. I’ve had the opportunity to sit through many “industry days” where hundreds of “grads” show poor and incomplete show reels to prospective employers.

At the same time, employers have to go through extremely large numbers of substandard job applications in order to find suitably skilled grads with the right personal as well as professional skills.  It’s an expensive and time wasting process when a basic set of competency standards would provide a guarantee a quality.  Indeed, in some countries, employers don’t’ bother to recruit from formal education but rather through personal and professional networking because the students skills and attitudes don’t’ measure up the current work environment.

Until next time - I look forward to your feedback and comments.